Kahi Pacarro gingerly steps off his dock and into his classic 15-foot Hobie Power Skiff, a smile beaming across his face. He extends his arms to help onboard his two children, a four-year-old daughter and almost two-year-old son, and his wife. The cooler's filled with drinks and snacks alongside a few of their ocean toys, a longboard, fish, and his trusty foil board. Kahi has a strong connection to the ocean, to the life it supports under the surface and on land as well, and he’s been spending his time sharing that connection with his family, at home and exploring Maunalua Bay.
The Pacarros moved into a new marina home just as life was changing for society on the whole. As challenging as it was to deal with a stay-at-home mandate with two small children, Kahi turned his attention to building a safe and welcoming home environment for his family. They started at the street and worked their way back to the water.
“We’re always looking for the silver linings,” Kahi says. For the past decade, Kahi has been instrumental in bringing community awareness and solutions to the dire problem of plastic waste in our oceans. Currently as Parley’s Hawaii director, Kahi is basically one of the main protectors of the Pacific Ocean. “We turned what would have been a challenging situation into an opportunity to make our nest. We focused on upgrading our home into a state of comfort that we’d be happy living in. Because of my work, I used to travel nonstop around the world, but the way our home is now makes me not want to travel. Plus, after traveling the world I can undoubtedly say that Hawaii no ka oi.”
In addition to making the home comfortable and welcoming, Kahi also had plans for sustainable landscaping that included growing their own food. With a bit of trial and error, Kahi built raised garden beds for their vegetables and herbs. Not just a means to grow kale, tomatoes and golden beets, the garden beds are also an educational tool, a living laboratory, a way to teach his children about nurturing healthy environments and growing food, seeding the connection of natural processes into their curious minds.
Just outside his backdoor, Kahi took on his passion project and built a dock, his connection to the bay and to the activities that would keep him and his family on a positive trajectory.
“The vast majority of living things on this planet actually live in the ocean, and the vast majority of oxygen in our atmosphere is produced in the ocean. If the ocean dies, we die,” Kahi explains. “Our behavior on land has downstream consequences, but those consequences don’t have to be negative. When we recognize the balance we need to achieve with nature to live a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle, than our upstream behaviors can have positive consequences. It’s really about instilling that value in our kids to make the connection that what happens on land affects our oceans, which provide life for the entire human species.
“Nature doesn’t need us and will get rid of us if we don’t get along,” he continues. “COVID and climate change are all reactions of nature saying we’ve exceeded resource extraction and now we bear the consequences of our actions. We need to take the steps required to get us back to a balanced sense of nature. Malama honua, that’s the basis of it all, we are earth and earth is us, a symbiosis with nature is a preservation of self.”
The Pacarro family is also finding balance by spending more time with their extended ‘ohana. The kids’ grandparents have been stopping by regularly to help out. Games, activities, and cooking are always go-tos, as they look to refreshing their holiday traditions this year to include a more intimate, homegrown meal. And now that Kahi’s daughter is showing her own stoke for the ocean, he’s excited to make almost daily surf excursions to their “secret spot” in the bay a new tradition.
Out on Maunalua Bay the wind is light, blowing offshore. The light blue water is clear and inviting. After dropping anchor near one of his favorite surf breaks, Kahi turns his attention to his kids, they’re about to jump in the water to cool off and they can hardly wait another minute. “I want to create a safe and comfortable lifestyle for them,” Kahi says. “Getting them in the ocean as much as possible and making them comfortable with the ocean is part of making that nest at home and establishing the connection between land and ocean so that they can grow safely and thrive. Most importantly, that their home extends into their true backyard, the ocean.”